The French anti-Semitic comic Dieudonne was acquitted Friday on charges related to a video in which he calls for the release of a self-styled Islamist serving life for the kidnap and murder of a Jewish phone salesman, AFP reported.
The controversial performer, who has a string of convictions for anti-Semitic hate speech, was cleared of defamation and illegally defending a convicted criminal because the judge ruled that it had not been proven that Dieudonne was behind the distribution of the video.
As a result, the court could not consider the content of his remarks, the judge added in a ruling greeted with dismay by France's Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), which had initiated the case.
UEJF lawyer Stephane Lilti said he would appeal in the hope of persuading another judge to "punish this recidivist anti-Semitic militant as he deserves."
"The judicial system has done democracy a disservice today," he added.
Dieudonne's lawyer, Francois Danglehant, welcomed the decision. "For once,the court has applied the law correctly," he said, according to AFP.
In the video, Dieudonne complains about the "power of the Jewish lobby" and calls for the release of Youssouf Fofana, currently serving a life sentence for the 2006 kidnapping and murder of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old of mixed French-Moroccan-Jewish heritage.
Fofana, a self-styled "barbarian" from the Ivory Coast, was convicted in 2009 of being the ringleader of a gang that abducted Halimi in the Paris suburbs three years earlier.
French authorities are currently trying to force Dieudonne to pay more than 65,000 euros ($90,000) in outstanding fines for his race-hate convictions.
Dieudonne was banned from entering Britain this week after authorities there declared him a threat to public order because of the racist nature of his act.
The French comic had said he wanted to enter Britain to visit his friend, French footballer Nicolas Anelka, who caused an outcry when he made the “quenelle” gesture, invented by Dieudonne, after scoring a goal in a game in Britain. He has since been charged by the Football Association, the sport's governing body in England, over his use of the anti-Semitic "quenelle" gesture.
Dieudonne has long enjoyed cult popularity in France but he has been catapulted to another level of fame in recent months by the popularity of his "quenelle", that he defends as an anti-establishment gesture but critics see as a disguised Nazi salute.
He responded to being banned from Britain by giving the “quenelle” to Queen Elizabeth II.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)